Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito (D-Rome) and Senator Joseph Griffo (R-Rome) have reintroduced legislation to better ensure that the New York State Public Service Commission (“PSC”) conducts a full investigation as to the need to add new area codes prior to beginning the implementation process. The bills, A. 1064 and S. 3260, were reported on April 7th.
While the bills would not prevent the PSC from creating new area codes when necessary, it would require that an on-the-record hearing be conducted by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) to examine evidence supporting the need for a new area code and to determine whether previously allocated 10,000 telephone number exchange codes can be reclaimed in order to avoid or reduce the cost and expense to consumers associated with area code changes.
PULP has reported extensively on the wasteful allocation of many exchange codes, resulting in multiple exchange codes being allocated more than 50 rural communities throughout the 315 area code region in Central New York, stranding hundreds of exchange codes where they are not needed, creating an artificial “exhaustion.” Subsequently, the PSC significantly reduced the assignment of exchange codes in this manner, greatly increasing the life of the 315 area code.
PSC Halts 315 Area Code Changes For Now, But Denies PULP Petition for More Aggressive Telephone Number Conservation and Reclamation;
PULP Provides Further Proof That Area Code Changes Are Not Needed Now in the 315 Area;
In the pending case involving the 315 area code, the PSC appointed an ALJ to determine how an area code should be changed (such as a split or an overlay), but not whether a change is really necessary now.
The added procedural protection would develop a record based on evidence and would not add significantly to the cost or time involved with area code “relief” because it only requires appointment of a staff ALJ to develop a record and issue a recommended decision regarding infrequent area code changes. According to the Sponsor’s Memorandum in Support, “[t]he cost of such added review and protection is far outweighed by the enormous cost and inconvenience to telephone customers if it can prevent or significantly delay implementation of a new area code.”
The bill would apply to pending area code proceedings, including the current proceeding examining the need for a new area code in the 315 region. The Memorandum added that “[t]he additional hearings and investigations required by this bill will not interfere with implementation of new area codes in 315 if ultimately they are required because the estimated time for exhaustion of number resources within 315 has been extended three times since the proceeding was initiated, allowing ample time for the investigation of number reclamation alternatives.”